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Happiness is being satisfied. The pursuit of happiness is by definition not being satisfied. Striving for happiness is vanity. Pascal said: man prefers to be distracted so that he does not have to think about himself, God, a purpose. But that he can think about playing, fighting and working. This pursuit of happiness is, well, insane. The world perishes from pollution, disasters, wars: people die in undignified conditions and because of human cruelty. But our highest aspiration is not to have to think about this by being able to laugh and drink and have as our greatest concern being able to live without worries.
The latter is living in a make-believe world, a bubble, celebrating ignorance. This mock world stands in stark contrast to the other world - that which remains on the full-fledged, drunken mock world. The mock world is thus not another world, but a withdrawal from the world. It is an apathy toward the happiness of the other and a narenning of one's own tail.
I thought the world was there for me, but I am there for the world.
Striving for the happiness of the other is thus the key to leaving this self-centered state of being. And once we let go of our prosperity we will have to think about the existential questions such as: why am I, what is the meaning of existence, what meaning do I give to death, what does it mean to live, what is happiness. Similarly, I understand Lewis when he writes that the great Christians of the past would have considered the awareness of mortality during war a blessing.¹ And that the awareness of mortality in ordinary times is reserved for only a wise man. In times of need, even the greatest dunce knows it.
No longer living so carefree sounds possibly paradoxical with Jesus words from Matthew 6. It seems to me, however, that this is not about security, but trust. Our way of "careless living" is thus diametrically opposed to Jesus' words. Not amassing and saving and insuring, but surrendering. And perhaps also living more in the moment. Also, it seems to me that Jesus did not mean to say anything about prosperity or wealth in itself, but rather about the problem this prosperity brings. So the "blessed are the poor" is music to his listeners' ears. Not because be poor is so blissful, but because they - the poor - Being concretely called precisely within the tragedy of circumstances. That is blissful.
On this paradox, the Marxist agrees with the Christian: That poverty is a blessing yet must be abolished. C.S. Lewis
- From: C.S. Lewis, Transposition, Studying in Wartime
Nice contemplative piece.
Thanks Aritha, nice of you to read it!